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Borneo - Rajang River - Kapit Jetty - 1ee

Borneo - Rajang River - Kapit Jetty - 1ee
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Borneo pictures taken in February 1983 - digitally captured from paper print

The Rajang River (Malay: Sungai Rajang or Batang Rajang) is a river in Sarawak, Malaysia. The river is located in northwest of Borneo and it originates in the Iran Mountains. The river flows approximately 563 km into Kapit, and then to the South China Sea, making it the longest river in Malaysia.

Some of the important tributaries are the Balui River, Katibas River, Ngemah River, Iran River, Pila River, Balleh River, Bangkit River and the Kanowit River.

Malaysia's largest and tallest (160m) hydro electric project, Bakun Hydro Electric Dam Project, is located on narrow Bakun Fall of Balui River.

During the Pleistocene epoch or Mesolithic period about 10,000 years ago, there was a 5 degrees Celsius drop in the global temperature. At mountaintops, rain became snow which accumulated as huge icy sheets (such as on Mount Kinabalu in Borneo), thus making a break in the global hydrological cycle. Due to lack of water discharge into the sea, there was a 120-meter drop of sea levels from the present time. The South China Sea dried up, exposing the Sunda Shelf and previous deep trenches became huge ancient rivers called the North Sunda River.

The Asian mainland, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Java were connected to Borneo via the landbridge of the exposed Sunda Shelf. The North Sunda River provided vital connection to the north, Baram and Rajang rivers in Sarawak to the east and Pahang River and Rompin River to the west of the massive land mass.

Freshwater catfish from the Mekong River in Vietnam and Chao Phraya River in Thailand migrated and mated with those in the Baram and Rajang rivers in Sarawak, exchanging genetic material about 10,000 years ago, showing these river systems were connected. After the Holocene global temperatures increased, the landbridges and the Sunda River were inudated and the catfish populations were isolated. However, their genetic motives are still in the DNA as an evidence of the previous connections of Rajang River to other rivers in Indochina and Borneo.

A total of 164 fish species has been recorded at the Rajang basin in 2005. Empurau (Tor tambroides) and Semah (Tor douronensis) fish are considered popular fishes among the locals. Empurau fish is still found breeding near the upper tributaries of Rajang such as Balleh River and near the Bakun Dam.

The biggest town by the river is Sibu, some 60 kilometers upriver from the mouth of the Rajang. The next major settlement upriver is Kanowit built on the mouth of Kanowit River at the bank of Rajang River, approximately 174 kilometers from the coast of South China Sea and about an hour boat ride from Sibu, followed by Kapit as the last major town on the river. Other towns which located at its banks are Sarikei, Bintangor, Song and Belaga.

The town of Sibu can be assessed by oceangoing vessels for 130 km while an additional 160 km of the river can be assessed by shallow-draft craft. The remaining parts of the river which leads into the Sarawak interior can only be assessed by small canoes. Speedboats and longboats are the major form of transport between Kapit and Belaga. Transportation above Belaga to Balui River requires longboats.

Rajang River also serves to transport logs down the river.

Date: 2018-05-01 04:13:46

Borneo Rajang River Kapit Jetty asienman-photography asienman-photoart

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